Selected Works

A whole new way of understanding mental illness, based on patients’ own experiences
True story of the maverick therapist who inspired I Never Promised You a Rose Garden


Gail A. Hornstein is Professor of Psychology at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts (USA). Her research spans the history of 20th-century psychology, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis, and has been supported by the National Library of Medicine, the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The former chair of Mount Holyoke's Women's Studies Program, Hornstein was founding director of the interdisciplinary Five College Women's Studies Research Center for its first 10 years.

Her articles and op-ed pieces have appeared in many scholarly and popular publications, including Newsday, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Encyclopedia of Psychology, the American Psychologist, and the Journal of Personality. Her widely-reviewed biography To Redeem One Person is to Redeem the World: The Life of Frieda Fromm-Reichmann tells the tale of a pioneering psychiatrist who dedicated her life to treating very disturbed patients. The Philadelphia Inquirer called it "fascinating and comprehensive," and Contemporary Psychology hailed its "exemplary scholarship and lucid writing."

Unlike most scholars who study mental illness, Hornstein has always been as interested in patients' experiences as in doctors' theories. She has compiled a bibliography of first-person narratives of madness which now lists more than 700 titles, and her current research focuses on the contributions that patients—past and present—have made to our understanding of psychology. Her new book, Agnes’s Jacket: A Psychologist’s Search for the Meanings of Madness, shows how the insights of those diagnosed as "schizophrenic," "bipolar," "depressed," and "paranoid" can help us radically reconceive fundamental assumptions about madness and mental life.

Born in Philadelphia, Hornstein did her undergraduate work at the University of Pittsburgh and earned her Ph.D. from Clark University. Visiting fellowships have brought her to Berkeley, Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, and London, and she now divides her time between Holyoke, Massachusetts and London.

An avid organic gardener, Hornstein spends her free time fishing, traveling in Europe, and searching for the perfect beach.
Photo by Paul Schnaittacher